Editor’s Note: When asked in a press conference after the first day of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic held in New Orleans, Louisiana, what new, secret lure he’d be fishing this year to win this championship, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, answered that he didn’t have one. Then after the 2011 Bassmaster Classic ended, we learned that VanDam fished a Strike King Premier Pro-Model spinner bait on the first day to catch a number of his bass. He also regularly fished the Strike King KVD 1.5 and KVD 2.5 square-billed crankbaits – the same crankbaits he used to win the 2010 Angler-of-the-Year title.

The 1.5 and the 2.5 had been on the market long before VanDam won the Classic using them. This week, Billy Blakely, a bass-fishing guide at Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake for 28 years, and Jackie Thompson, a bass guide on Lake Eufaula in southeast Alabama for more than 35 years, will tell us about their experiences fishing the KVD 1.5 and 2.5 crankbaits. Later, Chris Brown, the marketing and consumer-relations manager for Strike King, will explain to us what effect VanDam’s win at the Classic has had on the sale of the KVD 1.5 and 2.5 crankbaits.

Part 1: Bass Fishing Guide Jackie Thompson Used the KVD 2.5 for the First Time and Caught an 8-pound Largemouth

Jackie ThompsonQuestion: Jackie, when did you decide to start fishing the Strike King KVD 1.5 and 2.5 crankbaits?

Thompson: When I saw those two baits at my local Wal-Mart, I decided to try them. I’ve fished similar lures for years. I chose the sexy-shad colored 1.5 and 2.5. I went fishing a couple of days later with these baits. Shad are the primary forage of the bass here on Lake Eufaula. Even if the water’s stained, I’ve learned that the sexy shad color shows-up really well.

Question: What happened the first time you used the KVD 2.5?

Thompson: I caught an 8-pound largemouth and several other 4-pound bass.

Question: Do you like the KVD 2.5 better than the KVD 1.5?

Thompson: No, I like them both. When the bass are holding in extremely-shallow water, I like the KVD 1.5. But when they’re holding in deeper water, I like the 2.5. Both these lures are excellent grass-fishing lures. When the grass is submerged, and there’s 2 to 3 feet of water over the grass, I’ll use the KVD 2.5. As the grass grows-up from the bottom and gets closer to the surface, I switch to the 1.5. These two lures are designed to be fished at two-different water depths. I want to run these crankbaits, so they just hit the tips of the tops of the grass.

Jackie ThompsonQuestion: Why did you buy the KVD 2.5 and the 1.5?

Thompson: I knew that if I liked the 2.5 then, later in the season, I’d need a 1.5. So, I bought both.

Question: After your first day of fishing the KVD 2.5, you caught an 8 pounder and several 4 pounders. What did you do next?

Thompson: I had a friend, who worked at Bass Pro Shops, buy me several more KVD 2.5s and 1.5s, because I knew they were great lures. I also realized that if everyone learned what I knew about them, the tackle stores would soon sell out of them. I wanted to make sure I’d have some for me and my clients to fish. I bought a good supply of KVD 1.5s and 2.5s long before Kevin VanDam won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic with them.

Question: How many fishermen do you guide per week, and what effects have the KVD 2.5 and the 1.5 had on your success?

Thompson: I use those two lures consistently. My customers usually say, “Do you have an extra one of those crankbaits? I don’t have one of those in my tackle box.” Naturally, I have to let them have one of mine. But every time they hang-up one of those crankbaits, I go to the spot where the crankbait’s hung-up and get it back.

Jackie ThompsonQuestion: What type of bass have you caught on these two lures?

Thompson: We’ve consistently caught bass weighing 3- to 7-1/2-pounds each, with plenty of 4- and 5-pound bass in the catch.

Question: What do your customers say when they start catching bass on the KVD 1.5 and the 2.5?

Thompson: They want to know if I have any more they can buy. Of course, I tell them I don’t have any, and I have to keep what I have for my other customers. Since VanDam won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic with these two lures, they’ve vanished off the shelves. We can’t find them in any of our stores right now. I’m glad I got the ones I did when I did.

Question: How long this year do you think you can fish these two baits successfully?

Thompson: Well, I’m convinced I can fish them all the way through the summer, since VanDam caught bass on them in August last year. I caught bass on them last fall, so I know I can fish them in the fall and the early winter. Honestly, I can’t really think of a time I won’t have one of them tied onto one of my rods. Jackie ThompsonWhat really turned me on to this style of bait is because many years ago, there was a crankbait on the market called the Big O that was fatter than the KVD 1.5 and the 2.5, but it had a square bill and ran about 2.5-feet deep. It was highly successful for a long time.

When I saw the Strike King KVD 1.5 and 2.5, I could see many of the same properties in these lures that the Big O had, except the KVD 1.5 and the 2.5 had trimmer bodies and were more flat-sided. Too, they had a lazier wobble than the Big O. It looked like a much-better bait than the Big O, and since I’ve been fishing it, it has proven to be a more-productive bait.

For more information about Jackie Thompson or fishing Lake Eufaula, you can contact him at (334) 687-9595.

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